Why RAN is Screaming Hot in 2015

2015 is bringing significant changes to the radio access network (RAN) environment as the insatiable demand for mobile data continues to accelerate. These pressures are forcing operators to rethink their business models and how they operate. CSPs are aware of the need to improve the Quality of Experience for subscribers while also continuing to invest in delivering ever higher data rates. The RAN will play a critical role in enabling this transformation, and conveniently, is also where I come in, as Empirix’s RAN Solution Manager. 🙂 Part of my role is to look at the current state of the industry and where it is heading.

White Paper: Understanding Quality of Experience for Mobile Data

Below are a few items that operators need to be thinking about for 2015 and beyond:

LTE is clearly mainstream with 360 commercial deployments

Operators now need to think about how they will deploy LTE Advanced as it is being rapidly adopted with approximately 49 commercial deployments so far. Another factor to consider is TDD which is better suited for the typical asymmetric use of data services (with more demand for downlink traffic than uplink). 3G TDD had limited success but 4G TDD is already more widely deployed with 48 deployments.

The LTE spectrum auctions are generating mind numbing prices…

($45B in the US alone!) as the opportunity to leverage new frequencies to generate revenues heats up

The 1800 MHz band is the most widely deployed LTE band due the large availability of spectrum, the ability to refarm from GSM to LTE and also because it offers a balanced combination of coverage and capacity.

Service providers continue to monetize existing assets…

as revealed by the fact that GSM/EDGE is still the dominant radio technology, accounting for 57% of all mobile subscriptions.

5G is still undefined…

with no clear timeline for standardization. Ambitions for 5G revolve around the need for ubiquitous connectivity, mass machine to machine communication (otherwise known as the Internet of Things – IoT), improved spectral efficiency, and lower OPEX and CAPEX costs through improvements in network architecture.

Virtualization…

already widely deployed in the enterprise, is now gaining widespread acceptance by operators (in the form of NFV).  For the RAN environment, this is represented by acronyms like C-RAN, or Cloud RAN, which is gaining traction as a concept and while there will be early adopters for 4G it will realistically be 5G before C-RAN is accepted by the mass market. Like what we saw with the enterprise space, don’t be surprised if some “cloud washing” occurs! (many vendors will suddenly be a cloud something)

There is a strong demand for open and scalable interfaces…

(to help lower OPEX and CAPEX as well), this will act as an enabler for virtualization, SDN (Software Defined Networks) as well as increasing the choice of suppliers.

The real battle ground in RAN will be over End-user Quality of Experience

Poor quality of service is still a major reason (between 40-80%) for customer churn

Conversely, expect those with superior quality to leverage this a marketing tool.

Mobile data traffic is expected to increase at a CAGR of 40%…

with the bulk of that traffic driven by mobile phones (as opposed to tablets, mobile routers). In fact 2014 was the year that mobile devices supplanted fixed devices or even laptops as the number one access point for web and data searches. Service providers need to be able to meet all current and future demands. Expect the demand for voice will remain relatively static.

Big brother will definitely be watching, expect geo-location services to rank highly on the marketing teams wish list so they can monetize their platforms with advertisers who want to run targeted campaigns.

More on radio access network technology

Empirix Enters into OSSii Agreement with Ericsson
Partnership

Empirix will offer unprecedented end-to-end coverage of the radio access network (RAN) with its powerful RAN Vision solution. This OSSii agreement augments Empirix’s set of available data sources; extends monitoring coverage to additional network elements that can be monitored (such as eNodesBs, PCRFs, and HSS); and provides a robust, holistic view to customers.

Gaining an Insight into VoLTE Customer Experience via Analytics
VoLTE Customer Experience

Service providers are demanding more from their customer experience and service assurance solutions because they have a keen awareness of the richness and value of the information that flows across their networks. Reliably and accurately extracted, this information can be used to help manage not just the network, but also the services offered and the devices deployed. Insights can be also be gained around the performance of providers’ vendors and—most significantly—the experiences and value of their customers.

DAS – The Original Precursor to C-RAN
DAS

DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) can be considered the first iteration on the evolutionary road to C-RAN (Centralized RAN). As the name suggests, the antennas are distributed over a wide area, typically different stories of a building. A DAS solution provides improved carrier coverage, something that is becoming increasingly harder to achieve indoor due to ever-improving building and insulation standards. Additionally, as there are more antennas, they can broadcast at lower power.

RAN Vision Solution Wins TMC 2015 Communications Solutions Product of the Year Award
Businesswoman

One of TMC’s most coveted honors, the Communications Solutions Product of the Year Award recognizes exceptional products and services brought to market or greatly improved upon in the past year that facilitate voice, data, and video communications. Of the winners of this year’s awards, Rich Tehrani, CEO of TMC said, “True leaders within their industries, these honorees represent the best-of-the-best products and solutions available on the market today.”